Lemon Risotto

With Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Homemade Basil Pesto

A simple yet satisfying vegetarian main. The lemony risotto is delicious on its own, but the tomatoes and pesto take it to the next level!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the keys to a delicious risotto are gradual absorption and constant stirring. It’s what releases the creamy starches from the rice. So yes, this dish needs your undivided attention, but only for 25 to 30 mins. Once you try it, you’ll be glad you gave it the TLC it requires!

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Rice and Risotto, Vegetarian



For the slow roasted tomatoes:

  • 600 g baby plum or cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • 1 tsp sugar

For the basil pesto:

  • 50 g pine nuts
  • 40 g grana padano or parmigiano reggiano, grated
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 small lemon, zest
  • ½ small lemon, juice
  • 120 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 100 g fresh basil leaves

For the risotto:

  • 1.5 litre good-quality vegetable stock
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • 500 g carnaroli or arborio rice
  • 100 ml dry white wine
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 100 g grana padano or parmigiano reggiano, grated
  • 60 g unsalted butter


For the slow roasted tomatoes (optional):

  1. Heat your oven to 180℃ / fan 160℃. Slice the tomatoes lengthwise and place them in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, season well with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper and toss to combine.
  2. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Transfer the tomatoes to the baking tray and arrange them in a single layer. Bake for 1 hour.

For the basil pesto (again, optional):

  1. Place the pine nuts in a small roasting tin and bake at 180℃ until golden brown, tossing once halfway through, 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool. If you don’t want to do this, you can buy pre-toasted pine nuts.
  2. Transfer the toasted pine nuts to a food processor and add the grana padano and garlic. Blitz until finely ground, then add the lemon zest, lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil and basil. Blitz until smooth-ish, or to your desired consistency, then season with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste. Set aside.

For the risotto:

  1. Bring the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cover; you want to keep the stock warm over very low heat.
  2. Heat a generous glug of extra-virgin olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and season with a generous pinch of sea salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and softened, around 7 to 10 minutes. You want the onion to cook gently without it taking on any colour.
  3. Add the garlic and lemon zest and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly so they don’t burn.
  4. Turn the heat up to medium. Add the risotto rice and stir well to coat in the oniony/garlicky oil. Cook, stirring constantly, until the rice begins to look slightly translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the white wine and lemon juice and cook, stirring frequently, until the pan is almost dry, 1 to 2 mins.
  5. Add one ladleful of stock and cook, stirring almost constantly, until the stock is fully absorbed. Add another ladleful of stock and cook, stirring almost constantly, until the stock is fully absorbed. Repeat this process until the rice is cooked; it should be tender but with a slight bite. The whole process should take around 25 to 30 mins. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add one ladleful of hot water at a time and cook, stirring frequently until absorbed, until the rice is cooked to your liking.
  6. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the grana padano and butter and stir well to combine. Cover the saucepan and allow the risotto to sit for 3 minutes before serving. You might be tempted to skip this step but don’t – this is when the risotto becomes deliciously creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  7. Divided the risotto between bowls, top with pesto and slow-roasted tomatoes and serve – enjoy!


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